MASTERS OF SEX: Michelle Ashford Talks Time Jumps, the 'Three-Way Marriage,' and Josh Charles - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

MASTERS OF SEX: Michelle Ashford Talks Time Jumps, the ‘Three-Way Marriage,’ and Josh Charles

July 12, 2015 by  

Credit: Showtime

Credit: Showtime

MASTERS OF SEX returns with a brand new season tonight, and things have changed since we last spent time with Virginia Johnson and Bill Masters.

Between the end of season 2 and the beginning of season 3, more than four years have passed, and Masters and Johnson are on the cusp of (potentially) having their research acknowledged in a massive way.

And, naturally, their relationship is as complicated as ever, as well.

I spoke with MASTERS OF SEX creator Michelle Ashford about the show’s third season, guest star Josh Charles, and more…

What can you say about where the show picks up?
Michelle Ashford: We have a very odd show in that we have to make these very big jumps in time, because the Masters and Johnson story in their life together goes thirty-plus years. So if we go the distance, we have to figure out [how to pace it]. Because, actually, some great stuff comes along in the ’80s, believe it or not. So we knew we needed to move. I was struggling with that in the beginning. But [in season 2] we needed to move, and I didn’t want it to move in the beginning, so I moved it in the middle. So we end season 2 when Kennedy is inaugurated.

But the next big milestone for them — and I do try to tell the story from their [milestones] — is when their book is released, and that’s 1966 when it comes out. And they have a press conference before then. And we’re just going to go straight through; we’re not going to make any leaps within the season. It starts at the end of ’65, and goes into ’67. It’s a straight shot. But it’s a remarkable year for them. And it completely upended their lives in many ways. They became public figures. So, it seemed like the juiciest part to dive in.

How is the public interest impacting Bill and Virginia?
MA: A lot, a lot. It’s a very interesting thing, where they were hidden underground, doing this work, and it was only the two of them for many years of just being together, and hiding this work. And once it got out, and when you become any kind of celebrity, it becomes who you are in reality, and then they have this other entity that has been created that is Masters and Johnson. That is what happened. The idea of being referred to as “Masters and Johnson,” regardless of what’s happening becomes a very interesting thing to explore.

Where are Bill and Virginia, personally, when the season kicks off? And where does Libby fit into that?
MA: One of the truths about Masters and Johnson is that Libby, in reality, they lived in a three-way marriage for a long time. They would places together as a threesome, they would baby-sit each other’s children. That is actually what we went in and talked about, and in 1965, you will see it’s a very serious [thing] — it’s not an open marriage, because they aren’t talking about it openly, but you realize some kind of arrangement has been made, and it’s very, very interesting. They were so ahead of the time of the free love moment — when people were making all kind of kooky arrangements.

And Josh Charles is coming to the show this season. What can you say about where he falls?
MA: Masters was always married to Libby, but Virginia always dated throughout her whole relationship with Masters. There were a few people that came into her life that were real serious contenders for her affection. Maybe Josh Charles was one of them.

Was Josh someone you pursued specifically? Or did he audition and it became apparent he was right for the role?
MA: This was a full-court press [on our end]. And he…doesn’t have to do anything except for what he wants to do — he loves Lizzy [Caplan (Virginia)], and we somehow snagged him in, and he’s just a delight. A lovely man. And the right guy to be a formidable opponent.

What else has you excited about season 3?
MA: It’s so different. The character of Masters changes pretty radically by  him working out a lot of inner demons; it breeds change. This is not just us making it up — that man was very different than when he was before he met Virginia Johnson. We get to show him this year more accessible. Honestly, he’s funnier, and he’s a guy trying to figure [everything] out as he’s in the middle of something cataclysmic.

And then we have Virginia, and you see her kids [are so grown], it’s like, ‘Oh my God, what happened?’ Everything has moved, and you’re dropped in the middle of it, and I think it’s fun. I think it’s very energetic.

Looking back at season 2, what episode do you feel was really the most vital hour of the season?
MA: “Fight” was always designed to be the episode where you understood why we care about these two people as a couple. We knew they were sleeping together, we knew they were meeting in a hotel, and in the writers’ room, we realized we need an episode where you realize, this is wonderful, this is why we care about them.

MASTERS OF SEX airs Sundays at 10 PM on Showtime.

Follow @GiveMeMyRemote and @marisaroffman on Twitter for the latest TV news. Connect with other TV fans on GIVE ME MY REMOTE’s official Facebook page.

And to be the first to see our exclusive videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel at

Filed under Masters of Sex

Comments Off on MASTERS OF SEX: Michelle Ashford Talks Time Jumps, the ‘Three-Way Marriage,’ and Josh Charles


Comments are closed.